It was never in my plans to be an expat. You could go as far as to say it was the furtherst thing from my mind to even think about leaving the North of England.
Then I met my husband.
My husband ignited passions in me I didn’t even know existed before he arrived in my life with a bump. Before I met my husband I had visited the same country time and time again, I had been to 11 countries in the world and was happy bumbling along in my little life in Liverpool. I was going to marry someone, pop out some children and then continue along as I was.
Then, as I said, along came Rowan.
I’d go as far to say he’s changed me as a person, he’s lit a fire inside that I can’t make go out. I want to see the world. I want to explore. My 11 countries has moved quite dramatically up to 46 and I still want more.
Of course there is also the moving around we’ve done, not only from Liverpool to Manchester which felt like a big thing at the time but from there down to London (which again, FYI, I didn’t want to do – bit of a recurring theme right!??) then to Dubai and now to Doha.
And now I’m an expat I don’t want to go home. I’m not ready to head back to Englands green and pleasant lands. Not just yet. I want more. I want to see more, I want to travel more, I want to experience and live in more places. After Doha I’d love to head to Singapore, to America, to Vietnam, I’d love to see more of the Gulf from a residents perspective Oman and Bahrain in particular.
I am now a nomadic expat – and I love it.
The question is are you ever ready to be an expat?!
Can you put yourself out there day after day, even when you don’t want too? Say yes to every opportunity that lands in your mobile, in your email, in your Facebook messenger app? Go out and ask people to be your friends – and do it all with children in tow?
Yes, of course you can.
You can research, you can find groups, you have people reach out to you, because time and time again I’ve found that expat friendships are what make expat life.As a very generalised rule of thumb expats are amongst the most welcoming souls on the planet, because they have to be. They remember all to well what it’s like to be fresh off the boat. They remember how hard it actually is to ask for that hand of friendship. And most importantly they also know that they need you as much as you need them.
Expat life is like a conveyor belt, a constant stream and circle of friends arriving and friends leaving. Contracts starting, contracts ending, new opportunities arising. People move around. People come and then people go. The expat friendship is formed quickly, solidly and impenetrable.These are the people who you go to when your toddler is sick and you don’t know where to take him. They are the ones that take your other child so you can find a doctor without dragging them both around. The people who will come to your house in the middle of the night because your husband has broken his foot and you need to drive him to the hospital (true story, bloody football has a lot to answer for). They are the ones who offer up a washing machine when you’ve ten tonnes of washing and are living in a hotel room. The ones who say come to mine and I’ll give you coffee. And tea. And cake.
These are the friends who become your family. That you spend Christmas with. New Year with. Your birthday with. The friends you turn to when you need help. The ones you turn to when you don’t need help. The emergency numbers on your childs contact forms for school and nursery.
The people who’s children you watch grow up along with yours.
Expat friendship is a funny thing to describe. It’s an amazing thing to experience because the bonds can last through countries, through repatriation and through further expatriation.
Now we have friends in the UK, in Dubai, in Singapore, in Zambia, here in Doha. Friends from all corners of the world, friends who may repatriate back to New Zealand, to the UK, to America, to Ireland. Friends who may not. But it’s those expat friendships who’ve made our expat journey amazing so far.
You know you’ve made some good ones when you don’t know how to say goodbye when it’s time to move on.